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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Today’s Reading | Acts 9:10–19a

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. (NRSV)


When we hear about Paul’s conversion from being a persecutor of Jesus’ followers to becoming an apostle of Jesus, we usually think first and foremost of his direct encounter with the divine. While dramatic, it is nevertheless only part of the whole story of Paul’s call. The call is completed when it is confirmed by another: Ananias also receives a vision from the Lord, and obeying the Lord he encounters Paul, lays his hands upon him, and tells him that the Lord has chosen him to carry his name to all persons. It is not until Ananias confirms what the Lord is doing in Paul’s life that Paul’s call is complete.

The story of Paul’s call reminds me of the role that community plays whenever anyone is called to become a follower of Christ. The Spirit works not only through direct encounters with individuals, but also through the community, and as a result, we can provide for each other a sense of clarity and certainty— confirmation—that Christ is calling us. Without one another, the scales most certainly would not fall from our eyes. With one another, might we be able to see more clearly and more deeply that we are called and what we are called to do?


Do what it takes, Lord, to convert me and call me to serve you, but do not leave me alone in my conversion. Instead surround me by others who, when they look and lay their hands upon me, say to me that I have indeed been called by you and invite me to serve alongside them. In the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for our sake, I pray. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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